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Does Infidelity Matter in a New Jersey Divorce Case?

>> Jun 29, 2017

Infidelity is defined as the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse. When married, this is referred to as adultery, which can be cited as a reason for divorce. There are many instances where adultery can swing the favor of a divorce case in one party’s favor, but there are certain states that have specific rulings regarding infidelity.

Rulings on Infidelity in New Jersey

Choosing to end a marriage will be difficult regardless of the reasons behind the choice. In New Jersey, those seeking a divorce can choose to pursue a “fault” or “no fault” divorce. In a fault divorce, the party filing for the divorce claims that the other spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. In a no fault divorce, no blame is placed on either party for the marriage not working out.

As of January 2007, New Jersey became a “no fault” state, wherein parties seeking divorce are able to file for it without having to cite one of the fault-based grounds, or have had to be separated for a minimum period of 18 months before filing. In New Jersey, people are now able to file for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”.

Divorce Case Proceedings

Many people choose to file for a no fault divorce in order to avoid messy, expensive legal proceedings. Proving fault in a divorce can be traumatic for both parties seeking the dissolution of their marriage, and in cases of infidelity or adultery, it may sometimes require the naming of individuals with whom the other spouse has had an affair.

The court may also require information regarding the length of the committed infidelity, where it was committed, and so on. Finally, the individual with whom the spouse has had an affair with will most likely have to make a court appearance. In order to obtain the information the court needs in order to proceed, it may become necessary to hire a private investigator in New Jersey.

All of the above translates into a lot of work, and possibly much unnecessary heartache. In a state like New Jersey, citing adultery plays no significant role in helping the court determine the amount of support a spouse might be entitled to receive, nor in the division of the couple’s properties.

However, a court might rule differently if it is proven that the infidelity has had an adverse or negative affect on the couple’s finances. For example, if a spouse has spent a significant amount of money on the individual with whom he or she is or was having an affair with, or has hidden assets or cash with that individual, the courts may choose to factor in that spouse’s dishonesty into the division of the couple’s property.

Other Effects of Adultery in Divorce Cases

In terms of property division, the court will not factor in infidelity when deciding who gets what. There have been cases, however, where this could indirectly affect the decision. As mentioned earlier, if one party spends an excessive amount of the marital funds on an adulterous relationship, the court may rule in favor on the cheated spouse to receive a greater amount in the property division to make up for the misused assets.

The case is also the same for child custody, where infidelity does not necessarily affect the court’s decision. However, special circumstances come into play when the unfaithful spouse can put the children at risk by exposing them to someone who might adversely affect them during them time with the adulterous parent. For instance, if this parent lives with an alcoholic or sex offender, this can affect the court’s decision for custody or visitation rights.

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